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Identifying the neuronal basis of spontaneous changes in conscious experience in the absence of changes in the external environment is a major challenge. Binocular rivalry, in which two stationary monocular images lead to continuously changing perception, provides a unique opportunity to address this issue. We studied the activity of human single neurons in the medial temporal and frontal lobes while patients were engaged in binocular rivalry. Here we report that internal changes in the content of perception are signaled by very early (~-2000 ms) nonselective medial frontal activity, followed by selective activity of medial temporal lobe neurons that precedes the perceptual change by ~1000 ms. Such early activations are not found for externally driven perceptual changes. These results suggest that a medial fronto-temporal network may be involved in the preconscious internal generation of perceptual transitions.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature Communications

Publication Date